Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Absurd ‘CIA Election’ malware charges $50 to let you vote

Published Oct 24th, 2016 9:03PM EDT

I used to think no computer scam would ever get more ridiculous than Nigerian princes. But as it turns out, human creativity does know bounds, which is why the deliciously titled “Official CIA Election AntiCheat Control” malware is doing the rounds.

Details of the program were exposed by the MalwareHunterTeam. Once installed, the malware closes down all your common processes and displays a big and scary message. It says that unless you send $50 in a PaySafeCard to the CIA/FBI (standard operating procedure for large intelligence organizations), the “reigstred name on your house adress election vote will not be valid.” I assume that made sense to someone, somewhere.

DON’T MISS: AT&T’s internet-only, no-cable TV package will launch in weeks

It could be described as ransomware, if counting your imaginary friend hostage could be considered ransom. Obviously, this software has nothing to do with voting control, and unlike real ransomware, it doesn’t appear to encrypt all your files. A good antivirus program, mild Windows skills, or just a simple reinstall should easily defeat this virus.

But as we all know, the world’s grandparents generally don’t have the skills to do any of that, and these scams only become popular because they work. Preying on current affairs often works well for scammers, and given what an out-of-control inferno this election cycle is turning into, I’m not that surprised it works.

To avoid this malware, follow the same steps that you should already be doing: don’t download files from websites you don’t trust, use an adblocker, install updates for Windows (and your browser) regularly, and have some kind of antivirus (even the built-in or free antivirus) running and up to date.